Our View: EPA’s greenhouse gas ruling is a fiasco of arrogance
Bravo for California. The state sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday for denying California’s attempt to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new cars, trucks and SUVs. The lawsuit filed in San Francisco’s 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seeks to prove its program is superior to a federal plan championed by the Bush administration.The decision, announced in mid-December by EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, denied California a waiver that it and other states need to regulate vehicle greenhouse gases. Some reports indicated Johnson may have disregarded his own agency’s legal and technical staffs, who advised that the courts would find the ruling illegal.They should.In defending his decision, Johnson said the federal government had a national plan in place to raise fuel-economy standards and dismissed California’s arguments that it faced extraordinary threats from climate change.Johnson chastised the California law as a confusing patchwork of state rules.A patchwork, it isn’t: There’s one law.According to The Associated Press, 12 other states have adopted California’s emissions standards. The 12, along with three others, said they will support California in its EPA fight. Nevada is not among the total of 15.The Clean Air Act of 1970 gave California authority to set its own clean-air standards if it first received a federal waiver. The law allows other states to adopt California’s standards.According to the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Resources Board (ARB), California has requested about 50 waivers since 1968 to regulate smog-forming pollutants and other gases. The EPA has denied five, the last in 1975. This was the first request involving emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.California’s greenhouse gas law, signed in July 2002 and approved by the ARB in 2004, required the ARB to adopt regulations that would achieve the maximum, feasible reduction of greenhouse gases for passenger vehicles.The resulting regulations require the auto industry to reduce emissions by one-third in new vehicles by 2016 or reach an average of 36.8 mpg. Johnson said energy legislation signed by President Bush will raise fuel-economy standards to an average of 35 mpg by 2020.The ARB estimates that by 2020, California’s standard would reduce the state’s amount of carbon dioxide that vehicles produce by 30 million metric tons per year and more than 50 million metric tons by 2030. State officials calculate that by 2020, greenhouse gas emissions in all 12 states that have adopted California’s standard will decrease by 74 million metric tons.The EPA estimates that by 2012, its federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program will reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions nationally by up to 13.1 million metric tons. That pales when compared with California’s more stringent goals.Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a recent statement that EPA officials are ignoring the will of millions of people who want their government to take action in the fight against global warming.The governor’s dead on.California Attorney General Jerry Brown said he expects the legal battle to take years and potentially end up in the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s a phenomenal waste of valuable time and resources.While the feds drag their feet and automakers moan and whine, more greenhouse gases pollute our already suffering planet. The EPA decision is an arrogant abuse of power. California and its allies deserve better. An editorial by the Tahoe Daily Tribune, the Suns sister paper in South Lake Tahoe.
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